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Kip Knight shares how to utilize the power of all to build your business

I was fortunate to attend the Cincinnati area AMA lunch today, where Kip Knight, Vice President – Marketing of eBay spoke about “using the power of all of us to build your business” where he outlined his thoughts on the trending of business and marketing of companies moving into an open sourcing and collaboration model and away from the command and control model so many companies are familiar with.

Kip covered ground quickly, and interspersed his big ideas with humor to keep it light. As a result I left with a couple pages of notes. While Kip didn’t plant to many new ideas in my head, he proved a great review of blogs and articles I’ve read in the past few months. It’s also great to see yet another industry leader such as eBay to embrace these ideas.

You can view my full notes here (pdf download), but I thought I’d share a couple things he mentioned which I found very helpful and interesting.

First, Kip talked about a couple methods/programs they use to monitor the pulse of the eBay community.

* Voices – They fly in 20 users (sellers/buyers) each month and senior management with other key employees sit and talk with these users. Learning what they like about the site, what they don’t like, features they’d find helpful, etc. Once these users visit they become part of the Voices community and can be called in the future to answer questions and provide opinions on new ideas.
* Visits – This method takes 3 ebay employees to visit site users in their homes and watch them sell/buy on eBay. One employee asks questions, another takes notes, and the last video tapes.
* Views – Once a quarter, they conducts topical focus groups around the country on topics that are important to the company and it’s user base. i.e. Topic for Q2 2008 is safety

Secondly, he mentioned a couple stats I found very intriguing, the first of which is that 40% of the things sold on eBay are sold/listed via their API. 40%! That’s huge!

He also mentioned Wikipedia and how it’s huge user base allows for it to have a minimal staff of 5 full time employees, yet it is very agile in maintaining it’s product (obscenities last online for 1.7 minutes). It blows my mind that they are that quick in removing information that doesn’t conform to their community rules.

His talk sparked quite a few questions and ideas that require a bit more development, but I’ll follow up with additional posts later as those thoughts tie in for me, especially how they work with Abunga.

He also endorsed a book that I’m currently reading which is “Ultimate Question: For Unlocking the Door to Good Profits and True Growth” by Frederick F. Reichheld. The book focuses on the use of what is called the Net Promoter Score, boiling down to the question – would you recommend us to a friend? Pretty simple question, but very pertinent.

http://abunga.com/images/books/large/830/9781591397830.jpg

Have a great Easter.

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The Me in Team

Go Team

Anyone remember that LL Cool J commercial from a few years ago for the Gap where the key phrase was “fall into the gap”?

Well I ran across an post on Penelope Trunk’s blog, the Brazen Careerist recently that talked about the rising generation gap between baby boomer, X and Y at work.  I’m part of generation Y, and I’d agree that in my experience there are times where I clash with the older generations at work on many things.   I’d attribute some of these clashes to a difference in how I’m used to getting work done.  By nature I am a collaborative person, I believe differing perspectives bring depth to a problem, project, etc.  Thus, my workflow regarding a problem, site update, page redesign and so on often falls to asking those around me what they think of the issue.  It’s my way of attempting to address the problem as a team, not asking for advice on what to do, but what they view the problem as.  But as Penelope notes,

Being part of a team is the best way for today’s new workers to get interesting high-level work for themselves. However even though reams of research shows the effectiveness of teams in the workplace, Baby Boomer management has had a tough time with implementation.

More often then not in these times I’m asking for perspective, I get answers.  What I mean is that I get definite “do it this way” answers as opposed to a collaborative/team process looking at various perspectives.   In a world used to hierarchy, people who are used to making decision see “team”, and they only see the “me.”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that by nature I ask a lot of questions, and often attempt to get a full understanding in lieu of making a decision, when I should just make a decision and learn from the result.  But there is a shift that is happening in workplace culture, where a generation of teamwork-oriented employee’s, combined with the job-hopping culture trend will push companies large and small to make changes to accommodate them.  Those companies that don’t accept these changes will not attract younger workers and the world changing ideas they bring.

What are you doing to appeal to these workers?

Have a good day everyone.

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Ikea and Facebook share more then just blue in their logo

I just saw an article on Slate.com comparing how Facebook is similar to Ikea.

I’ll admit that the similarities are not apparent at first sight. But a defining idea behind Wikipedia, Facebook, and blogging platforms such as WordPress is that if you give people the right tools, they’ll use them to create wonderful things in collaboration with each other or with the organization that provides the catalyst.

It is interesting because it’s taking a larger look at where customers create content when a company provides a platform. I’m interested to see how Abunga ties into this because while we are not a giant company like ebay or facebook, we do operate as both a content provider and a platform provider for both business to tie into our platform for selling, as well as a platform provider giving every member the tools to interact and change what we sell.

Facebook, like Ikea—and like Microsoft—has mobilized an army of independent suppliers. In Facebook’s case, they are developers who produce applications that can be plugged into the Facebook platform. In all these cases, the idea is the same: If Facebook (or Ikea) can woo the customers, independent suppliers will be queuing up to help, and if the independent suppliers are queuing up, Facebook (or Ikea) should be able to woo the customers.

And like the quote above we’ll need those independents, sellers in our case, to add further value to the site, to help “woo the customers.”

Which do you think comes first, the customers and then the independents, and then more customers? Or is like the field of dreams, build it (a great platform) and the independents, and then the customers will come?

Have a good day everyone.

Article

http://www.slate.com/id/2182149/nav/ais/

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collaborativefailure=genius

lightbulb2.jpg

This past weekend I was involved with a photo shoot. I wasn’t the one modeling, but boy I had a lot more fun then I thought I would. I had pretty low expectations, and my brother even said before we left that it wouldn’t be zoolander-like. WOW was he wrong.

We walk in the doors at 10am and the techno music is pumping and it’s in this big industrial warehouse location. Vicki our graphic designer was totally fashion-trendy, our photographer John, was totally emo, and his make-up assistant, Heather, had on pink snow boots, white sweatpants with PINK across the butt, a pink hoody and bleached blond hair up in spikes. So awesome.

What I really found interesting from the experience was being part of the process and watching creative collaboration happen in real-time. We’d normally call this “brainstorming” but that seems to aseptic for what I was part of it was really fun to sit back and watch it play out.

The interactions between the model and the photographer. The interactions between the photographer and the graphic designer. The interactions between the graphic designer and the model. Watching the creative process in real-time. Watching ideas spark ideas. It was almost like watching a stream of consciousness. We started at A expected to end up at B, and instead we ended up at N. But that’s not bad, or wrong, just more then we expected. The idea grew between the interactions. This itself isn’t a new idea, it was just neat to be part of.

The takeaway is this:

It comes down to the willingness to fail. John and Vicki tried some different things. The got creative with it. They followed tangential thoughts. If we were shooting 35mm would they have tried, probably not. But in a digital world there is room to fail. We took 18 GB of pictures in 4 hours. Some of them are going to be horrible, maybe the lighting may be a bit off. Or his face may be contorted. But in a digital world, it doesn’t matter. We scrap those and move on, because in that freedom to fail some of the pictures are going to be amazing for what we wanted. We could have been simple and boring, but we pushed the edge, and got some great shots. Josh over at his blog hyku mentions this idea of risk-less digital as well. He says, “You ask questions, you stir up controversy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The beauty of the medium is that you can fail fast and cheap.”

When the cost of failure is low, we normally experiment a bit more. I am a fan of the mantra “Go big or go home” How can you go big or go home? How can you experiment more? How can you fail (and learn) more?

If you want to check out Vicki’s work/company Bullhorn Creative

If you want to see some of John’s work, go to Vicki’s site, he took the picture on the opening page.

Have a great day everyone.

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